Ex-BEF Royal Artillery transfers between regiments in August 1940?

Discussion in '1940' started by PackRat, Aug 9, 2018.

  1. PackRat

    PackRat Well-Known Member

    Has anyone seen evidence of large transfers of men between RA regiments that saw service with the BEF and regiments that did not around August 1940? Was there a central decision to move groups of battle-experienced men into inexperienced regiments?

    These entries come from the War Diary of 139 Field Regiment, which had been with the BEF in April and May:

    Pabo Hall, 8th July
    Orders were received that an exchange of officers and men was to take place with R.A. 15 Div. Three Officers and 59 O.Rs. were required.
    [The next day, the C.C.R.A. visited the Regiment to talk to the group of men selected for exchange and interview the officers.]

    Overton, 5th August
    The party to be exchanged with the 130th Field Regt. R.A. left early in the morning. Major Wright, Capt. Chrimes and 2Lt. Crow, B.S.Ms. Weaving and Scates are the Officers and W.Os. to be exchanged.
    This loss will be a sorrow to those leaving and those left behind, but has been undertaken knowing that it is in the best interests of the Royal Regiment.
    The party from 130th Field Regt. R.A. arrived in the evening. The Officers are Major Lawrie, Capt. Glen and 2/Lt. Biscce

    130 Field Regiment's War Diary is much more sparse, and this is the only entry mentioning anything about the transfer, even though some 10% of the unit has just changed over:

    Frating, 6th August
    1800 Major C.W.Wright R.A. is posted from 139th Field Regiment R.A. and assumes command of 316th Battery.

    My grandfather was one of the men transferred from 139 Field to 130 Field (both 'Second-Line' TA regiments - 139 went to France but 130 didn't), with his service record confirming the transfer date. I've just seen a post by iAdz where his grandfather's records show that he was transferred from 97 to 79 Field Regiment, also in early August and also after BEF service.

    Was this part of something larger? Was there an intention to 'stiffen' the regiments who hadn't served in France with an intake of men who had experienced combat? Has anyone seen other evidence of these transfers in service records and diaries?
  2. sjw8

    sjw8 Active Member

    Hi PackRat
    There does seem to have been a scheme to exchange personnel between different ex-BEF units to non-BEF units in order to spread combat experience around.
    My own father was one such soldier within the Royal Engineers - the August War Diary of his BEF unit includes the following entry -
    16 August (1940) -
    1 Sgt, 1 L/Cpl, 7 Sprs, 2 Dvrs of this unit exchanged with personnel of 256 Fd Coy RE & 258 Fd Pk Coy RE.
    With the added note -
    Exchange of personnel from ex BEF units with non BEF units.
    On the same date they also exchanged a subaltern with 255 Field Coy.

    (Dad was one of the Sappers shunted off to 256 Field Coy w.e.f. 16/08/40 as confirmed in his Service Records).

    Steve W
    PackRat likes this.
  3. PackRat

    PackRat Well-Known Member

    Thanks Steve, that's just the sort of thing I was looking for. There was nothing in the regimental diaries confirming why the exchange took place, but that entry from your Dad's company diary makes it explicit.

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